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At issue in this boundary dispute was whether a property line ran to the center of a road where the deed described the property as being bounded by that road and included the property’s square footage, as well as a reference to the subdivision plat. Landowner owned Parcel E, which was located in a property owners’ association (Association). The dispute concerned whether Landowner owned the portion of Hibiscus Drive, a road forming the northeast boundary of Parcel E, between the road’s edge and its center. The circuit court that Parcel E extended only to the edge of Hibiscus Drive and entered judgment for the Association. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because nothing in the deed expressed a contrary intent, Parcel E ran to the center of Hibiscus Drive by operation of the rule of construction. View "Ettinger v. Oyster Bay II Community Property Owners’ Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court finding that George Mason University’s (GMU) decision to deny Maheen Malik’s tuition reclassification was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law, holding that there was no support for Malik’s assertion that GMU’s decision to classify her as an out-of-state student was arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise contrary to law. Malik filed a petition in the circuit court for review of GMU’s final administrative decision to deny her in-state tuition. After two hearings, the circuit court found GMU’s decision to be contrary to Virginia law and arbitrary and capricious. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court exceeded the scope of its review by reweighing the evidence and substituting its judgment for that of GMU; and (2) ample evidence supported GMU’s conclusion that Malik failed to carry her burden of proving that she was an in-state student for purposes of tuition. View "George Mason University v. Malik" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s sentence of ten years in prison, three years suspended upon certain conditions, imposed in connection with Defendant’s conviction for felony child abuse and neglect, holding that the trial court’s sentencing order, as drafted, did not comply with Virginia law. On appeal, Defendant argued that the sentence imposed by the trial court did not conform to Va. Code 19.2-295 and 19.2-295.2 and improperly extended the maximum sentence fixed by the jury of seven years in prison. In reversing, the Supreme Court held that the court impermissibly lengthened the sentence fixed by the jury from seven years to ten years, which the Virginia Code does not authorize. View "Thomas v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals denying Defendant’s appeal from the circuit court’s order revoking twenty years of Defendant’s suspended sentence and resuspending fifteen years after finding that Defendant was in violation of the conditions of his probation, holding that the admission of hearsay evidence in the probation revocation proceeding did not violate Defendant’s right to confront witnesses against him under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendant was convicted of rape. After he was released on probation, the circuit court issued a capias for Defendant’s arrest on the ground that he had violated the conditions of his probation. At a probation revocation hearing, the circuit court ruled that certain hearsay evidence was admissible. The circuit court ultimately determined Defendant to be in violation of the conditions of his probation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not violate Defendant’s right to confront witnesses against him. View "Johnson v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of arson of an occupied dwelling and nine counts of attempted first-degree murder, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress his confession and did not err in denying Defendant’s motions challenging the sufficiency of the evidence of his specific intent to commit murder. On appeal, Defendant argued that his confession, given after he was informed of his Miranda rights, was the product of an intentional and coercive interrogation technique proscribed in Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600 (2004) or was otherwise involuntary. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Defendant’s post-Miranda warning inculpatory statements were voluntary, and thus admissible; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to establish Defendant’s specific intent to commit attempted first-degree murder. View "Secret v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that an employer owes a duty of care to an employee’s family member who alleges exposure to asbestos from the work clothes of an employee where the family member alleges the employer’s negligence allowed asbestos fibers to be regularly transported away from the place of employment to the employee’s home. Three years after Wanda Quisenberry was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibers, Wanda died. Plaintiff alleged that Wanda was exposed to asbestos when her father brought home on his clothes asbestos fibers from his place of work, that Employer had reason to know of the dangers that asbestos posed to workers’ family members, and that Employer was negligent in failing to exercise reasonable care to sufficiently warn workers not to wear work clothes home. Employer sought to dismiss the action on the basis that Virginia precedent did not support imposing a legal duty on an employer for injury to an employee’s family member that occurred outside the premises. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia then issued a certification order requesting that the Supreme Court consider this dispositive question of law. The Supreme Court answered as set forth above, holding that the take-home duty is recognized by Virginia law. View "Quisenberry v. Huntington Ingalls Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court striking Plaintiff’s evidence at the trial of her personal injury action against Defendants, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that Defendants only owed a duty of care to Plaintiff commensurate with the duty a landlord owes its tenant. Plaintiff rented Defendants’ vacation rental house for her family’s one-week vacation at Virginia Beach. Plaintiff alleged in her complaint that Defendants were negligent because they failed to maintain the house’s floors in a safe and fit condition and failed to warn her of the dangerous condition that caused her to fall. At the conclusion of Plaintiff’s evidence Defendants moved to strike her evidence and enter judgment for Defendants. The circuit court granted the motion on the grounds that Defendants only owed Plaintiff a duty of care commensurate with that of landlord and tenant. The court then entered judgment in Defendants’ favor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants did not owe Plaintiff the elevated duty of care that an innkeeper owes its guest but rather, under the evidence presented by Plaintiff, Defendants only owed Plaintiff the duty of care that a landlord owes its tenant. View "Haynes-Garrett v. Dunn" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this appeal of a judgment confirming an arbitration award, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err in refusing to vacate the arbitration award under Va. Code 8.01-581.010. Plaintiff filed a fourteen-count complaint against Defendants alleging liability theories for conspiracy, conversion, legal malpractice, breach of trust, and other causes of action. Defendants moved to have the dispute submitted to arbitration pursuant to an arbitration provision in an agreement between the parties. The circuit court granted the motion to compel arbitration, and the arbitrators found in favor of Defendants on all counts. The circuit court confirmed the award in its entirety and denied Plaintiff’s application to vacate the award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no basis in law or fact for reversing the circuit court’s confirmation of the arbitration award. View "Meuse v. Henry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff’s suit alleging breach of contract claims against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. pursuant to the applicable statute of limitations, holding that because Plaintiff did not file his suit within five years of the date of accrual, the statute of limitations barred his claims. After a foreclosure sale of the property at issue, Plaintiff filed this complaint alleging that Wells Fargo breached a mortgage loan agreement by failing to give him a contractually required opportunity to cure his default and by improperly accelerating the balance due after his default. The circuit court concluded that the debt acceleration had triggered the accrual of the breach of contract claims and that this breach had occurred more than five years before Plaintiff filed suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims were barred by the statute of limitations. View "Kerns v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that Plaintiff’s amended complaint alleging a wrongful death action failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted against Irish Fleet, Inc. and Reginald Morris under a theory of assumed duty. Plaintiff, the administrator of the estate of Peter Ambrister, brought this wrongful death action against Defendants arising from the murder of her husband, a taxicab driver, by his passenger. Irish Fleet and Morris filed demurrers to Plaintiff’s amended complaint, asserting that Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to support a cause of action based on a theory that they assumed a duty to Plaintiff. The circuit court sustained the demurrers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that the amended complaint failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted against Defendants under a theory of assumed duty. View "Terry v. Irish Fleet, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury